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56          HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

concerned, the new masters were far more dangerous than the
old. The Persians had ruled from a distance, and made no attempt
to proselytize. Greek civilization, though quite tolerant, was
more deliberately pervasive. The network of Greek cities spread
over Syria was intended to make the language and customs of the
conquerors take the place of the native language and customs ;
and to begin with, the method was as successful with the Jews as
with other Eastern peoples. By 200 B.C. the majority of the Jews,
including many of the priestly families, were won over to Hellen-
ism and had given up the national practices even in matters of
religion. Only a comparatively small number of " the pious "
maintained their devotion to the ancient Law.

The process of denationalization began quite early in the
Macedonian period. At the end of the Fourth Century B.C., or
shortly after, it took literary form in some of the most notable of
the minor books of the Old Testament: namely, Job, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, which with the book of Ecclesiasticus in the Apocrypha
make up what is called the Wisdom literature. These books differ
in many respects from all the other books of the Old Testament.
Common to them all is an almost complete absence of the distinc-
tive religious ideas of the Jews as they appear in either the Law or
the Prophets. The interest of the writers, in fact, is not in
Judaism but in humanity at large. It is characteristic that the
word " Israel" is not once mentioned in the book of Proverbs >
while the word "man" (Adam) occurs thirty-three times. It
illustrates the same detachment from nationality that the central
figure in the book of Job is not a Jew, a fact that led the rabbis of a
later age to be extremely doubtful as to Job's portion ill the next
world.

The movement assumed a still more definite form after 200 B.C.,
as is duly recorded in the first book of the Maccabees : " In these
days came forth out of Israel transgressors of the Law and per-
suaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the
Gentiles that are round about us ; for since we were parted from
them many evils have befallen us. And the saying was good in
their eyes. And certain of the people went to the king, and he
gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the Gentiles, and
they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to the laws of
the Gentiles; and they forsook the Holy Covenant and joined
themselves to the Gentiles." In the second book of the Maccabees,